NZ Rail Maps Project Development Report [2020G]: General Considerations

Good evening. In our last project development report we wrote about web hosting options, and since writing these have been more or less confirmed in the establishment of a SmugMug site to host the map content produced by the Project. This is, however, a commercial site that involves a financial cost, and this requires the payment of a fee on either a monthly or annual basis. In addition, since the use of this site does not incorporate the ability to host the content of this blog on the same site, we are compelled to continue with this separate project development blog to document the progress of the project.

However, the site does give us the ability to create the pages of written content necessary to enable people to discover and engage with the map content in the site; it just doesn’t have built into it the features of the WordPress platform that we find valuable, such as categorisation of posts and an RSS feed. Whilst we could host the blog under a subdomain of our project web domain that we use to connect with our SmugMug site, we would have to pay additional hosting fees to WordPress with very little additional benefit.

At the present time it is not feasible for various reasons to invite external financial support for this project without taking steps to place its activities under the control of a corporate entity such as a charitable trust. This naturally involves additional work, but for reasons outlined below, we feel it would be difficult to attract and maintain support over a longer term for this Project to be able to maintain the ongoing operation of such an entity. Hence, there is no straightforward mechanism for us to seek external donations to support the project and it remains, therefore, a personal hobby funded chiefly by its key developer.

The reality of the situation for the NZ Rail Maps Project is that it has attracted only a low level of interest or support from the wider railfan community in New Zealand and elsewhere. That support is further divided and compromised by the attitudes taken by a small number of individuals within that community who have personalised their disagreement with the Project or people involved with it. Over time, these disagreements have had a material impact upon the work of the Project as a whole and have led directly to a desire to finalise the Project and bring its work to a conclusion within a definite timeframe. We don’t intend to comment further on these situations except to say that those detractors have very little understanding of or sympathy with the actual and real obstacles and personal sacrifices made daily in overcoming physical disability, financial poverty and other issues in order to move the Project forward to where it is now. Not one of those persons has made any personal contact or offered any support for the wider project at all. They seem to believe mostly that punitive actions of applying social media blocks will serve their cause, which in itself allows them to openly campaign against the work of the Project whilst being invisible to us, and therefore, as has been proven to be the case, promoting false and demeaning information about the Project and its key developer.

We therefore restate that we are firmly committed to the current stage of working to bring the Project to a conclusion within the calendar years 2020 to 2022, as previously outlined, and that we will endeavour to continue bearing all of the financial expenses of doing so within that period. Once the development phase has continued, we will commit to maintaining the project website in operation for an unknown number of years into the future. This will be on the basis that at the conclusion of the Project, we will have ceased to need to engage any further with the railfan community of New Zealand, having found more productive ways of utilising our personal time and resources in communities that are much more supportive of what we do.

We do enjoin our actual supporters to give consideration of how they can in a practical sense support this Project as a whole and perhaps think about whether they can set up any kind of corporate entity to help meet those costs involved in operating the Project’s website.